Monday, July 21, 2008

"It's Too Hot For Red"

So proclaimed the "server." Quotes for the word "server" because the only thing she shared with a professional server is that she carried the food we ordered from the kitchen to our table.

I don't normally trash a restaurant on this blog because we can't afford the time or the money involved to re-visit a place that we don't like. And a critic should go several times before trashing a place. But I'm not a critic, I'm a blogger, so I can say what I want, and you understand that it is what it is. One person's opinion based on, in this case, one visit.

BrooklynLady and I went to The Queen's Hideaway on a recent Friday night. I'd heard about this place a few years ago and always meant to try it. Sounds good, doesn't it - whatever Liza Queen buys at the farmers market and feels like cooking, that's what you get. Expect home cooking, like smoked ribs, fried okra, corn bread, things like that. Served up fresh in a (formerly) out-of-the-way spot in Greenpoint...what could be more fun? When I read the feature article on the restaurant in the summer issue of Edible Brooklyn, I knew it was finally time to get over there.

When I made our reservation (which took some doing, as no one returned my phone calls) I asked about the corkage policy. "We don't allow it," Queen said. She went on to explain that she puts a lot of care into the wine list and although she used to allow corkage, she doesn't any more. But there are plenty of great wines, she promised.

We sat in the garden and looked over the menu. The wine list, though, offered three sparklers (none by the glass), three whites and three rosés. No red wine. The main dish choices were skirt steak or scallops, and since I usually avoid scallops in restaurants, I would eat steak. How could there be no red wine on this carefully selected wine list?!? The group of 6 people at the table near us asked the same question and were told "It's too hot for red" by their server. How do you like them apples.

Meanwhile, our "server" vanished into the night, maybe doing the next day's shopping. Since we were one of only three occupied tables in the restaurant I decided to go look for her after 10 minutes. She was chatting at the front of the restaurant, and was definitely not thrilled by me interrupting her. Shortly thereafter she showed up to take our order. The following exchange ensued:

Me: "What is Ham Galantine?"
Her: "It's like a hamburger."
Me: "You mean it's ground and cooked in a patty?"
Her: "It's ham that's been picked at and shaped like a hamburger."

Well, that's all we needed to hear to ensure that neither we, nor anyone we love would ever order the Ham Galantine. We laughed - I mean who cares, really. It's a hot but lovely friday night in July and we're out together having dinner in the garden. So what if I'm drinking Leitz Riesling out of a stemless water glass with my steak.

The food was fine, nothing great, nothing terrible, just fine. The fried okra appetizer was way too greasy and overloaded with breading. The Dutch pancake topped with cherry tomatoes was good. The steak was nicely seasoned and the best thing on the table was the corn pudding that came on the side. Even at $25, the steak was a satisfying dish. If this were my local joint, I'd be happy to stop in for dinner about once a month, because the food is fine. But this is not a destination spot. And when you take the truly awful service into account...unless my experience was a complete anomaly, I really cannot imagine why anyone would travel to have dinner at this restaurant.

By the time we were done with our dinner we were ready to bolt. It was getting really hot in the garden and we had dreams of strolling through Greenpoint hand in hand eating ice cream cones. But where was our "server?" She vanished again. Eventually I went to find her, again interrupted her conversation, and asked for the check. She brought it, I handed her my credit card and the following exchange ensued:

Her: "Our credit card machine is broken."
Me: "Well, I don't have cash - I called first to ask if I could use a card."
Her: "The machine broke recently."
Me: "So, should I mail you a check or something?"
Her: "There's an ATM at the deli a couple of blocks away."
Me: "You know what, why don't you send the owner out here."
Her: "I'll go and try it again. Sometimes it charges you twice."
Me: "Hopefully this will not be one of those times."

Still not sure whether or not I was charged twice. And it still bothers me that I left any tip at all, as opposed to 10%. When I was a waiter in college, a 10% tip meant that I royally screwed up service. Does it still mean that?

We left, relieved to be gone, a bit sad at the state of the restaurant game in NYC, happy to be strolling hand in hand through Greenpoint. We had delicious pistachio/cardamom ice-cream cones, by the way.

The Queen's Hideaway
222 Franklin Street
Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Wine - below average. Tiny list, no corkage allowed
Food - average. Appetizers: $8 - $15, Mains $25
Service - poor.
Ambiance - average.
Value - average.


Anonymous said...

No red wines when you are serving steak? That's just stupid. No excuse for that...even if you DO allow corkage.

Not allowing corkage on a list that small is just silly. You'd have paid to bring your own wine, I know how you roll.

Mrs. LENNDEVOURS and I have very little tolerance for bad service, but I've noticed that we have even less tolerance now that we have Jackson around. The times that we get to go out, just the two of us, are few and far between...and I expect to be taken care of when we do. Is it so bad to want (and expect) a good experience when you're paying for a good meal?

Jason A said...

I too had heard and read a lot about this place. I had since forgotten about it until your post. I guess I was ahead ahead of the game.

David McDuff said...

I'd try to write a meaningful comment but I'm laughing way too hard.

Do Bianchi said...

I've heard that place is known for its "same-day service."

Great post... Bruni couldn't have written it better!

Anonymous said...

Where'd you get the ice cream cones? That service story meakes me cringe. Thanks for saving me the trip.

Brooklynguy said...

i hear you lenn, and i actually don't care alot about service. i only notice it if it's bad.

i amuse you, eh McD? i'm funny to you?

hey jeremy - so i'm not the only one then. this place has a rep for this...amazing.

anon- we actually walked into billyburg before finding the right place. someplace on bedford and like North 10th maybe? right next to a little cafe. very tasty home made stuff. sorry, cannot remember the name.

Anonymous said...

I think McDuff might be suggesting that the story made him laugh not the writer or the writing.

I too was cracking up at the story because of the massive ineptitude of the server. I particularily like the lines "Our credit card machine is broken"; "It broke recently". Talk about an obvious attempt to get a cash tip so as no to pay uncle sam his dues.

Anonymous said...

Since it was 'too hot for red wine', maybe you were lucky you got hot food! Was one of the champagnes rose' by chance? That should have done the steak justice.

Brooklynguy said...

anon - i know, it was a reference to goodfellas. i can play with the McD like that.

hey michelecolline - nice to see you around these parts. there were no champagnes. a moscato, a cava, and i cannot remember the other one. no champs.

Lyle Fass said...

Parzen took the words out of my mouth with the Bruni comment. Restaurants that have a sense of entitlement blow!

Beau Rapier said...

I think you may have been at a place called "Penny Licks". It was "Sweet Farm" for a couple of months and something else before that. As bad as it sounds I still might check it out and bring my own wine without even asking. Maybe that's rude though, I'd hate to be a customer at a silly little Greenpoint joint w/ a sense of entitlement and bring overblown sense of entitlement. Good post.

Anonymous said...

There are many many posts on chowhound to this effect, describing everything from the careless service you received to a full-blown temper-tantrum screaming fit by the owner directed at a customer. I'd avoid this placelike the plague.

Anonymous said...

Brooklynguy said...

wow - i read through the comments on the link you provided anon. absolutely amazing. my favorite is this one from the chef herself:

Don't know the rules for this website, but I am the chef/owner at the Queen's Hideaway and the cook in question for "brunch shocked."
For a vent you were actually quite sweet. Future recommendation, don't talk to a cook during service. Pretty much ever. Or step into her kitchen during service. Also pretty much ever. There's are many reasons why good servers are valuable and among them is that fact that most cooks are fairly curmudgeonly, antisocial and cantankerous. My trash talking was not very nice, true. But as far as kitchen shit talk goes, that, I promise you, was fairly mild. You can tell cause there was no cussing involved.

Liza Queen Aug 11, 2005 11:08AM

granted, it's three years ago, but you can tell that nothing has changed. the beautiful thing about NYC is that people feel that they should be subjected to this, and they somehow keep her place afloat.

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend fell out of her seat laughing when she read:

"So what if I'm drinking Leitz Riesling out of a stemless water glass with my steak."

Because that's her mentality, but I'm the opposite. I agree in theory, but I get frustruated. I think she thinks she'd rather go to dinner with you than with me. . .

Brooklynguy said...

hey charles-tobe perfectly honest, i was able to achieve that sense of calm, but mostly after the experience. i was pretty annoyed most of the time we were there. i wish i were better at it though. i think there's something nice about the mentality that your girlfriend has.